We may have come a long way in fifty or even a hundred years but have we learned the right lessons?
We may have come a long way in fifty or even a hundred years but have we learned the right lessons?
Just because I can, doesn’t mean I will.
So long ago a child was born
In swaddling clothes He lay
Sheep and cattle gathered near
And wise men kneeled to pray
As time went by upon the earth
This child had years to grow
Once He sought a temple’s scribes
To tell them what to know
The Son did speak His Father’s words
Of love and trust and truth
Others must be taught to know
The principles of this youth
He lived His life each every day
By the tenets of which he spoke
They form the basis of our lives
As one we must invoke
So long ago a man did die
In swaddling clothes he lay
He gave His life for all of us
And now it’s time to pray
Just like the ‘powers that be’ want us to live in a “paperless society” they also seem to want us to do that scent free. As I look around my cluttered, paper strewn desk, I chuckle. Scent free? Impossible!
”Fragrance Free Space!” “Scent Free Zone!” ”We Share the Air!” I can understand asking people to refrain from wearing perfume and cologne. (The way some people marinate in their choice of scent is quite nauseating. But I digress.) The Purveyors of Scents is a multi billion dollar business. They will not go quietly into that good night.
It used to be quite common for women and indeed men to adorn themselves with particular scents. People became known by the way they smelled. Some were flowery, some were exotic and others were, well, to each their own. I once was attracted to a man who always wore the same cologne which I found quite heady. So much so that when I smelled it in a grocery store my heart started to flutter. Imagine my chagrin when I turned around and it was being worn by a woman. Man, I can still smell that cologne!
But over the years I became sensitive. If you are wearing too perfume I might actually have a coughing fit. It’s not an attractive look for me. And I am not alone in this. Hence the signs asking people to refrain. And this is where it gets interesting.
A friend came over and I started to cough. Like I said it’s not a good look for me. I explained that it was probably her perfume that had set me off. She said she wasn’t wearing any. When she was seated across the room we started to take stock. Shampoo, body lotion, face cream, deodorant, lipstick, makeup, laundry detergent, dryer sheets . . . are you starting to get the picture? There are scents in everything!
I buy non-scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets. They still have perfume in them but it is much milder than the scented ones. Mild but not completely absent. Buying deodorant or anti-perspirant is not a case of what works best, it’s a case of what smell I can handle. It’s the same with shampoos. There are chemically added smells to just about everything!
I love the smell of the earth in the spring with just a hint of rain in the air. I love the smell of grass growing in the dirt or wind straight off the lake. I love the smell of snow and pinecones. I love the smell of the mountain breezes. I love natural smells. But the ones that are created by chemical means are offensive. With all the technology that exists in this world and we can’t figure out how to make natural scents using natural products in a natural way? No. People do love their chemicals!
When I was younger we used to go camping and one of the things you learn early on is to leave your perfumes at home. They just attract the bugs. After a week without perfume and deodorant and body lotion stinking up nature we all smelled a little ripe. It was an honest smell and since we all smelled the same way it became less offensive. Actually you don’t even notice it after awhile. I get that wouldn’t work in the offices of today but surely we can figure something out.
Maybe instead of trying to go scent free, we should more accurately try to be scent tolerable. Fewer chemicals and more naturals. What I’m I thinking? That will never happen. We are talking about a multibillion-dollar business. And as we all know: money speaks loudly!
The Rocket watched carefully. His target was near. Once again his skill and his daring would be their undoing. A young man who went by the moniker The Rocket was feeling a need: a need to take. He watched as a slightly older than middle-aged woman stopped to root in her purse for something. With a quick glance around him he darted out from his hiding place between the buildings. He stopped only for a smile, to tip his hat and to say “thank you” as he relieved the shocked individual of her purse.
As The Rocket darted away down the street he was laughing at his daring. It never failed to amuse him that it was so easy to swipe a purse in broad daylight. His feet had carried him a mere 10 feet before they betrayed him. Without time to understand what was happening to him The Rocket watched as the pavement rose up to meet his face. He dropped the purse he had just liberated in an attempt to protect himself. Just before he reached the ground, he heard a voice.
“Once you’ve finished your fall I would suggest you stay there.” An ominous voice instructed.
“What the . . . !”
“Watch your language young man. There are ladies present.”
The Rocket tried to sit up but realized that there were something sticking in the middle of his back keeping him down and it hurt. As a matter of fact most of him hurt. Someone had tripped him!
A moment went by as The Rocket collected his thoughts.
“That’s better Richard. You might want to get up off the pavement. It is a little undignified.” That voice again!
“That’s not my name!” As he stood up, the boy known as The Rocket looked at the man who seemed to be the cause of his most recent fiasco.
“Your name is Richard Dunston. You are 14 years old and have been in and out of juvenile hall for two years. Your mother is so worried that she asked me to take you under my wing. So why don’t you sit down here and we can get to know each other a little better.”
The newly identified Richard stood staring at this old man with a cane and dog. He couldn’t think of anything to say. So he said nothing. He also wanted desperately to run away but he realized now who exactly was sitting on the park bench. This man probably had Richard’s future in his hands. So Richard, formerly known as The Rocket, sat down.
If anyone had bothered to look they would have seen an elderly gentleman of some distinction sitting quietly beside a young boy. At the feet of the gentleman was an obviously excited dog. It seemed as if everyone was waiting for something to happen.
Not a moment later the woman who had previously been relieved of her purse approach the park bench. She was smiling. She retrieved her purse from where it had fallen on the sidewalk and nodded her head at the two men.
“Good job done Superintendent, you were right. Shall I leave him in your hands?”
“Yes thank you Constable. I’ll call in my report later.”
“Good luck kid. You’ll need it.”
The now identified policewoman took her purse, straightened her back and walked purposefully away. Richard a.k.a. The Rocket stared at her retreating back with something akin to horror. He had been set up! By an old man and a girl! He would never live this down.
“How? How did you know?” He just kept repeating one word: how?
“Well son, do you know what a modus operandi is?” Richard just looked blank.
“I’ll take that as a no. I guess I should introduce myself.” So for the next few minutes Brett did just that. As Richard listened he felt more and more at a loss. His life was changing drastically.
Brett Bramwell Kirkland was a retired Police Superintendent. He had worked for 37 years with a near spotless record. The only complaint ever made against him simply reinforced his image of impartiality and of doing the right thing regardless of cost. Four years ago his wife of fifty two years had died. He kept in touch with his four children and their families but he lived alone except for Ten-four: a small West Highland Terrier. His name Ten-four, in police language means everything is fine. The dog was given to Brett by his grandson.
Nowadays Brett could be found walking his dog in this neighbourhood almost every day or lounging on this particular park bench. Which is how Richard’s mother knew where to go when she needed help.
Richard was on a path of destruction. He fought, he drank and he stole. He had been in trouble with the police and his next step would probably land him in a penitentiary. So Brett had been prevailed upon to help.
“You make a lousy criminal kid.” Brett spoke quietly. Richard balled his hands and looked as if he wanted to start a fight.
“I can keep you from jail and alive, but you have to do something for me.”
“I don’t gotta do nuthin you say!” Richard was definitely spoiling for a fight. He jumped up from the park bench and turned to face his accuser.
“Oh sit down. You give me a hard time, I call the cops, you go to jail. How long you go to jail will depend on what my mood is. So it is in your best interest to do as I say.” The quiet authority with which this man spoke caused the young criminal to re-think his situation.
Richard was starting to understand that he was stuck between a rock and hard place. So he sat down, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to listen.
First of all, you are going to return all the items still in your possession that belong to other people. Next, you are going to meet the principal of the high school and make arrangements to get back in school. Then you are going to write letters to all the people whose names I will give you, that you have stolen from. The police keep very good records. And finally, you’re going to get a job. That job is to be my assistant. Ten-four needs to be walked regularly and I’m sure I can think of a great many other activities to keep you out of trouble. I’ll pay you what you’re worth so you had better do a good job.
Poor Richard looked as if he were ready to cry. All the fight had gone out of him. He had met his match. He reached down to scratch the silly white dog’s head. Maybe things weren’t that bad. The old man had a cute dog.
“Hey mister, how’d you know I’d be here today?”
“Modus operandi. It is a Latin phrase that means method of operating. People do the same thing out of habit. It’s those habits that make criminals easy to catch. People do the same things the same way almost every time.”
Richard thought for a moment and then realized he’d just been taught a life lesson. People were predictable. It’s what made understanding them a possibility.
“So what’s your modus operandi?” Richard asked of the older man.
The retired superintendent smiled, “I catch thugs for breakfast.”
The two men sat beside each other on the park bench. Each set in their ways but ready to face the changes the world would force upon them. At their feet quietly sat a small white dog, he too was waiting for a change.
“How about a walk in the park?”
A Time For Change ( June 2013)
No I am not talking about changing your politics or changing your underwear . . . although . . . never mind. I am talking about changing attitudes. Not everyone has a problem with people who are different, just a notable minority. That process of changing their attitudes is on going and never ending. Where we can make a huge difference is in ourselves, our attitudes. Yes we are ambassadors for everyone in a wheelchair but we are also ambassadors to ourselves.
I have often joked that the legs at the end of my hips weren’t mine. They certainly were not acting like we had any kind of relationship. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand and if I wanted to move my foot I had to use my hands to do it. Ever since I was told that I needed to give myself permission to fail occassionally I have been rethinking my legs. Because I have no other legs to change to I will have to find a way to get along with the ones I have. As a parent did you ever have a child that would not listen to you, would not obey any rules you laid down? Those without children, did you ever have a dog that refused to come when you called? Well my errant appendages are like that. Did you stop loving your child or your dog because of a difference of opinion? No, you found a way to make it work. I have an arm that is awkward to use. It doesn’t open properly and I can’t straighten it out fully. So I do more things with my other arm. I adapt. People are capable of adapting to almost any situation it just takes time and effort, and a lot of thought.
I spoke to a man once who had lost one leg to diabetes. He was inquiring about buying my van. During the course of the very pleasant conversation I learned that he had just recently lost his leg. I was surprised. My illness came on me very slowly over a period of years. He went from two legs to one in a matter of minutes. I don’t care how much you prepare for such an event it must have been traumatic. This man was upbeat, laughing, totally in control. He had made peace with his situation and was in the process of adapting to it. This man was and is an inspiration to me. Here I am frustrated with my legs and he is moving on with his life. I must admit I was a little ashamed of myself. I can get hung up with such unimportant things. I am a well-adjusted (sort of), intelligent woman. I can adjust when I need to, it just takes a little effort. And perhaps a change of attitude.
Say what? Now if I were wealthy I would be considered eccentric, but no I’m just odd. It is, however, the kind of odd that amuses me so I will continue with my . . . . oddities.
Articles of clothing are not my usual topic for dreamland but I’m presently in the market for a few new necessities of comfort. Now that is a topic I am most familiar with: comfort. You ladies understand and gentlemen . . . think of women’s intimates not just as pretty packages for really cool prizes but as a metaphor for a good society. Now aren’t you glad you continued to read?
You thought I was going to go smutty and I segued into a societal discourse on the human condition. Welcome to my twisted mind. As I see it a woman’s intimates provide a foundation on which to build a carapace within which one interacts with society.
What we show to each other is not necessarily who we are. Each article of clothing is combined to elicit a mood, a look, a means to complete a necessary task. A night out at the pub – perhaps a thong. A doctor’s appointment – full brief. Court case – flaming red hipsters. It’s all about how it makes us feel.
As a society we hide our feelings and allow only what is acceptable to show on a daily basis. Love, hate, anger, envy . . . the list is exhaustive. In order for society to function properly, people need to conform to expected doctrine. But that doesn’t mean an individual has to completely suppress their personal individuality, but rather adapt to meet the circumstances of the moment.
I know this seems complicated and unnecessary but it all comes down to foundation. If a house is built with the proper foundation it can last for 100 years. If a society has a proper foundation on which to build, it will remain stable instead of fracturing at the first sign of trouble. Countries with a strong foundation can weather horrible troubles and still maintain its identity.
Perhaps now you understand why sleeping isn’t always a restful activity for me. But my dreams are never dull!
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